Mr. Ariel Wyckoff has been involved with Friends of Mongolia for many years, and his wife is helping raise money to build a new kindergarten in rural Mongolia. Please see the below letter detailing the project. If you wish to contribute, please see the project’s GoFundMe page: gofund.me/24zxcbg
We hope everyone is enjoying their spring/almost summer!
FOM wanted to bring a certain rural development project to your attention, and to ask for those interested to please do what you can to support it. This is a project coordinated by a friend of FOM, and someone who has helped us greatly in past years with our “Clothes, Books, and Toys for Mongolian Children” project.
The Rural Mongolia Kindergarten project is a collaboration between the local village government of a town of 1700 people in rural eastern Mongolia called Chuluunkhoroot (in Dornod province), and Khandmaa Baterdene Wyckoff – an unaffiliated woman who happens to be married to a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (M-11, Ariel Wyckoff), whom she met while he was posted at that town as TEFL volunteer from 2000-2002. Ariel has been an active and engaged member of Friends of Mongolia from 2006 through 2014, and some of you may remember his name from a few of the inter-cultural and assistance events/activities he has been involved with.
Chuluunkhoroot is about as tough as it gets in Mongolia. As a town lying on the Russian border, and the last stop on the railroad line running north from Choibalsan, the town had been intimately connected with the Soviet Union since its founding in 1954. When the Russians left in 1990, life got really hard there. Even today, there are few modern amenities – running water, electricity, computers, indoor heating, and other modern conveniences – are scarce. The hospital is under-staffed and often does not have enough vitamin supplements for the children, let alone proper medicine for the town in general. It gets down to -40F in the winters there. There are unemployment and alcohol-abuse problems among the young adults. The economy is based on livestock-herding and when zuud (seasonal disasters) hit, the herding families are left vulnerable. This was the social context of Khandmaa’s childhood. She went to that kindergarten in that town, under those conditions, as a small child. Her mother taught at that kindergarten, and when she got older she also taught at that kindergarten.
However, after having become a mother and having living in the United States with her husband for more than ten years, she decided it was time to try to do something about the deteriorating conditions of the kindergarten in Chuluunkhoroot. That is how this project got started. Khandmaa had helped coordinate a “Books, Clothes, and Toys for Mongolian Kids” material assistance projects for different groups of children at various children’s homes at which Peace Corps Volunteers were working (Save the Children, Anna Home, Sun Kids, etc.), under the purview of the RPCV-Mongolia non-profit, Friends of Mongolia. And for three of those years, she actually went to Mongolia to supervise the transport of the boxes to the children’s centers, as well as the distribution of the materials. This gave her the idea that maybe she could also do something about the kindergarten in her home town. In summer of 2014 she also decided to start consultations with the local Chuluunkhoroot, to see what the actual needs were, and what could be done to assist the kindergarten. That is how this renovation project came into being.
And the GoFundMe site with all the details, the pictures of the kindergarten are here: gofund.me/24zxcbg
The kindergarten is in bad shape. Infiltration to the walls, ceilings and floors by water due to heavy precipitation in colder months has become a real problem. The windows have no glass and are covered with plastic sheets. The insulation is rotting. Mold is proliferating in the ceiling. The foundation is cracked. The radiators don’t work. The doors and window (original wood from 1974) cannot keep the heat as they have become warped with time and exposure to moisture. There are no cots for the kids to nap in. There is no indoor restroom and tap water is not even available for hand-washing – all water is still drawn by hand from a nearby well. The building is heated only by coal when it is available, and this requires manual laborers to haul coal in from the train station and shovel it into a coal-fired boiler by hand.
The staff and the teachers are dedicated and hard-working. The local village government supports this project, and laborers are ready to donate most of their time to fix up the building.
The key costs here are purchase of equipment and materials and the travel to Borzya, Russia to buy them. FOM can also send a detailed break-out of costs in the Excel for those interested, and/or the official endorsement letter from the Chuluunkhoroot Village Government (followed by English translation) as well.
We need all the help we can get to make this project happen, and get a better kindergarten for these kids, who happen to live in one of the toughest spots in Mongolia. We know Friends of Mongolia take Mongolian children’s welfare and education to heart, so we’re reaching out in hopes that your generosity can help make a new kindergarten for these children a reality in the near future. A little does go a long way in Mongolia, so even small donations help.
Thanks for everyone’s support!
p.s. For Mongolian speakers, Mr. Galbadrakh of Orloo.com wrote an article about this project for the DC-Area Mongolian Community here: http://goo.gl/ZCWmoG